Complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, 2019-20 and 2020-21

16 August 2021

The data published here includes data about the complaints PHSO received and the decisions made on complaints about the NHS in England and UK Government Departments and other public services in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

The data shows the number of complaints we received in each year, and the decisions we made at each stage in our process. The number of decisions made in a financial year may differ from the number of complaints received in that same year. This is because some complaints will be received in one year and a final decision may be made in a following year. For example, a complaint might be received in 2019/20 then decided following a detailed investigation in 2020/21.

A complaint may go through a number of stages before PHSO makes a final decision. We have recently made some changes to how we describe our work to accurately reflect the work we do at each stage. These stages are:

1. Initial check

First, we do some initial checks to make sure we can deal with a complaint. This includes checking that:

  • We can look into the organisation and issue being complaining about.
  • The organisation's own complaints process has been completed.

2. Primary investigation

We then take a closer look at a complaint to decide if we should investigate. We look at several things, including:

  • Whether the person complaining had been affected personally by what happened.
  • Whether they complained (to us or an MP) within a year of knowing about the issue.
  • Whether the complainant has (or had) the option of taking legal action instead.
  • Whether there are signs that the organisation complained about potentially got things wrong that have had a negative effect that hasn't been put right.

3. Detailed investigation

We talk to all parties about the complaint and what we're going to investigate. We explain how long we think our investigation will take and we keep all parties regularly updated. We gather all the information we need, including from the complainant and the organisation complained about before we make our final decision.

We might seek advice from clinical professionals at this stage when we look into complaints about the NHS in England.

2019-20 parliamentary data relating to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): Since PHSO’s annual casework data was published, we have identified an error affecting complaints upheld, or not upheld, for two of DWP’s agencies - the Independent Case Examiner and the Child Maintenance Service. As a result of this the upheld rate (upheld or partly upheld) for DWP was originally reported as 44%, the correct figure is 33% for 2019-20.

Data for 2020-2021: The COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have a significant impact on our service, people who use public services, and the organisations we receive complaints about.

Like many public services, our productivity has been affected. For the organisations we investigate, it has affected their ability to provide the information we need to carry out investigations.

In 2020, we paused complaints about the NHS between March and July to enable health organisations to focus on the immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This impact will be seen in the data for 2020-2021 and subsequent years.


NHS Organisations Tables 2019-20

NHS Organisations Tables 2019-20.ods [ods, 176.17 KB]
NHS Organisations Tables 2019-20.pdf [pdf, 685.34 KB]

NHS_Organisations_Tables_2019_20.csv [csv, 177 KB]

NHS Organisations Tables 2020-21

NHS Organisations Tables 2020-21.ods [ods, 154.57 KB]
NHS Organisations Tables 2020-21.pdf [pdf, 656.63 KB]

NHS Organisations Tables 2020-21.csv [.csv, 154 KB]

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2019-20

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2019-20.ods [ods, 57.61 KB]
UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2019-20.pdf [pdf, 221.38 KB]

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2019-20.csv [.csv, 10 KB]

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2020-21

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2020-21.ods [ods, 55.73 KB]
UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2020-21.pdf [pdf, 224.64 KB]

UK Government Departments and Agencies Tables 2020-21.csv [.csv, 11 KB]

Helping us improve

If there is any way we could make our data more user-friendly or accessible, please let us know. Email your ideas and share your comments and feedback by contacting